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The War Nerd / October 29, 2008
By Gary Brecher

Can I time these articles or what? The day after I put up my article on Ethiopia’s troubles in Somalia, 5 car bombs go off in two Somali cities targeting the Ethiopian consulate in Hargeisa, the Presidential Palace (such as it is), a UN HQ, and the Puntland Intelligence Service.

That’s the first time I even knew there was a Puntland Intel Service, by the way. Puntland is the horniest part of Somalia, the coastline up there where it pokes up into the Indian Ocean and then heads west toward Djibouti. Puntland has been in the news a lot because it’s the home beach of the world’s coolest pirates. Maybe the Intel Service was getting in the way of the local business. I would’ve thought their main job was identifying promising ships, casing the joint as it were, and passing on the info to the local Long John Silvers for a cut. Well, if there were any Puntland crimefighters, they’re shredded meat now. That’ll teach those do-gooders to mess with the Horn.
I have to stop a sec to give some credit to those beautiful Somali pirates. Everybody these days TALKS piracy but nobody does anything. Except the Somalis. All these noisy pampered brats want to be Jack Sparrow, I hear them badgering their moms while I’m trying to eat my lunch at Wendy’s–only these Somali kids don’t just whine at their parents to buy them expensive toys. No, they go out there and get what they want by boarding freighters trying to sneak past Puntland’s coast.

God, that’s got to be one of the scariest sights in the world, a speedboat full of Somali skeletons armed to the teeth coming aboard. These crews are mostly from hardworking South Asian places, Tamil or Bengali, and they didn’t sign on to play straight man to the Pirates of Puntland.

Once in a while you get a little more poetic justice, like when they boarded a French yacht and took the crew hostage a while back. Unfortunately, the champagne-poppers were rescued.

You can bet money changed hands, too. The shipping companies don’t like to talk about ransom, but they pay up. So there are a lot of Somalis flashin’ the bling and soupin’ up the cigar boats along the Puntland coast, yo ho ho and a bottle of money. I saw one of these tsk-tsk articles the other day with the headline, “What drives Somalis to piracy?” Dumbest question ever; even the subhead answered it for them: “Women, Money, Drugs.” Does that answer your question? Not to mention the fact, which I go into in the article below here, that Somalis are raiders, plunderers from way back. They like it. Even your fat little video-game nephew likes the idea, he just doesn’t have the guts to do it. What do you think he’s doing on his console up there in his room except blowing people away and taking their stuff? Somalis can go out and just coldbloodedly do it.

Anyway, Puntland is the bad boy of the broken-up Somalia we have now. The northwest part is the good little Mama’s boy Somalia, where the nice Somalis are. Hargeisa, where most of these bombs went off, is the capital of goody-two-shoes Somalia. What just happened up there is the old, traditional Somalia’s way of saying no to all that Western innovation. Just think of it as a vote for tradition: the good old tradition of stealing people’s stuff and slitting their throats. You know, the one your little darling’s practicing on his X-Box.

The bombers probably weren’t pirates, because piracy’s more a career move, and no guidance counselor this side of Chechnya’s ever been able to talk your ambitious senior into suicide bomb-ery as a top-ten “Grow Your Resume!” option. Even Johnny Depp couldn’t get much team spirit into a speech with, “Arrr, me hardies, go blow yourselves up!” for a finish.

The bombers were probably Islamists, because your serious Islamic groupie seriously thinks that getting vaporized in a junker full of fertilizer is the best way to wealth and riches, via Paradise. The bombings were probably linked up to the Islamic Courts that ruled Somalia before the Ethiopians (with Cheney’s help) pushed them out of Mogadishu. For more on that, “see below,” like us journalists say.

Gary Brecher is the author of the War Nerd. Send your comments to

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